Fallout 4 One Year On

Jim Trinca has penned a look at the reception of Fallout 4 and its fan community, one year after the game's release. According to the thesis of the writer, it's possible the choice to go for a more story-oriented experience with full voice acting for the protagonist might have impacted the game's modding community and its long tail of sales:

Single-player games have a hard ceiling on their longevity, unless content is constantly being pumped in. Bethesda can't crank out the DLC forever, so it now falls on modders to keep things interesting. This has been a quiet arrangement between Bethesda and its most determined fans ever since they provided "The TES Construction Set" with Morrowind - the in-house tools used to craft items, quests and characters. Keys to the factory, entrusted to a content-hungry public while HQ transfers to the next project.

Fallout 4 has an active modding community, with the top mods on NexusMods.com achieving in excess of a million downloads. But ambitious creatives who aren't content with tweaking the game's stats and aesthetics, who want to tell stories in its world, face a conundrum in deciding what happens when the player character speaks. There are two options - find a soundalike to do the voice acting (or two, to account for gender), or don't.

The issue isn't insurmountable, and story mods do exist, but not in great numbers. It's a problem that the more ambitious side of the modding community has never had before, and it reflects Fallout 4's most striking deviation from its predecessors: it casts you not as a tourist in its world, but as a tourist in the life of its main actor.

This may explain a relative lack of enthusiasm for the title when compared to Skyrim, which trundles on, still dipping in and out of the top twenty sales charts while celebrating its fifth birthday. Is excitement directly proportional to scope for self-expression? Looking at the obscene amounts of wealth and YouTube views generated by Minecraft, a game fundamentally about transporting cubes, it certainly seems so.